Emine Seckin had never beaten Yuma Yamazaki in five attempts; she’d never even taken a game off the world No.3.
Today, still grieving the loss of her father who died five days ago, the Turkish women’s singles WH2 player dug deep to upset the home favourite and enter the quarterfinals of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as the top player in Group B. The second-placed Yamazaki too made the quarterfinals.
An emotional Seckin dedicated the victory to her father.
“Yuma and I have played many times, and I lost all my matches. I worked very hard to be able to beat her and finally I did it. I really want to play the final, and I want to win a medal. I lost my father five days ago, played for my father. I was very sad and I played for his memory.”
Later in the day, Seckin continued her run into the semifinals, beating Amnouy Wetwithan 21-10 21-15. Seckin faces world champion Liu Yu Tong for a place in the final. Yamazaki, who beat Tatiana Gureeva in her quarterfinal, takes on second seed Xu Ting Ting.
Shephard Out Despite Win
World champion Jack Shephard failed to make it to the knockout round of men’s singles SH6 despite beating Chu Man Kai. Shephard needed to win in straight games to give himself a chance at making the semifinals on points countback.
Shephard was positive about his experience after his 21-11 22-24 21-10 victory.
“I said yesterday that I’d come back stronger. And I did. I put all my thoughts behind me yesterday, today was a new day. I didn’t feel nervous out there. I played really good badminton. It shows in the result. I slipped in the second game but that’s done now. I knew I needed to win in straight games to make it through (to the semifinals) but unfortunately I didn’t play well enough yesterday.”
“The second game was close, I just went into some bad habits which let me down in the end.
“I’m disappointed I’ve not gone through but I’m pleased at how I turned things around because that’s what I’m going to need in the future, for Paris 2024. From what I’ve learnt here, I’m going to be even better next time.”
Chan Ho Yuen Falls in Shock Loss
Chan Ho Yuen of Hong Kong China, second seed in men’s singles WH2, was surprised by fast-rising Japanese youngster Daiki Kajiwara in Group C. Both had earlier sealed their places in the quarterfinals, but Kajiwara’s result caused ripples as Chan Ho Yuen was considered a gold medal favourite alongside Kim Jung Jun.
Chan acknowledged that Kajiwara was now a strong contender for gold; even stating that he was playing at a level similar to that of WH2 legend Kim Jung Jun.
“All the younger guys have improved over the last few lockdown months,” said Chan. “I don’t feel very bad because I played my game. I think I controlled things enough and Daiki has improved a lot in the past two years. Especially during the Covid months. He was able to move quickly around the court and stay very energetic and that really surprised me. I’m looking forward to the quarterfinals – let’s see what happens.”
“I struggled with the lines. He made few mistakes on the lines – he’s probably familiar with the venue. I appreciate him, and I think he’s got everything for the gold medal.
“Daiki kept the pressure on me, he was at Kim’s level. I prepared the way I do against Kim. But now he’s at our level. He’s kicking us out because we are old – but it’s good for the sport!